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ABCs & resource parity

Posted: April 2, 2012 - 12:05am

Development, conservation in classrooms topic of schools legislation

A bill that aims to highlight resource development and conservation issues in Alaska classrooms was heard in House Education Committee, March 30.

The curriculum would embrace Article 9 of Alaska’s state Constitution.

House Bill 352 (bit.ly/HewGJH) was introduced late in February by Rep. Alan Dick (R – McGrath).

Reps. Eric Feige R - Chickaloon and Peggy Wilson R – Wilson have added their names to the bill.

The bill is “not telling anybody to do anything,” Dick said. However, it empowers Alaskans to go to the school board if they feel a certain curriculum is not a proper balance of development and conservation in line with Article 9, he said.

Though it does not yet, Wilson would like the bill to also cover the state university system.

“To education in Alaska,” Wilson said.

In his sponsor statement, Dick said “(t)he purpose of this bill is to clearly state that the curriculum in local schools supports the intent of the Constitution.”

During his testimony to the House Education Committee, Dick said his constituents have come to him and said, “we realize we’re not training enough teachers here in Alaska to meet needs, therefore we’re bringing teachers from outside.”

Because of low population, he said, the state must develop its resources to fund much of its own management costs. This reliance on natural resource development necessitates that the state educate its potential future geologists, fishers, miners and others of their role of being an owner and protector of Alaska’s natural resources.

Rep. Paul Seaton R - Homer asked about certain conflicts with textbook selection.

“I’m worried about unintended consequences,” Seaton said. “I think we are going to have to hear from school districts.”

“We want minimal unintended consequences,” Dick said. Teachers, he said, “can pick whatever textbook they want as long as the curriculum reflects parity.” They can balance textbooks with other materials, he said.

Dick said his bill is directed at the future owners of Alaska’s valuable resources.

“We want parity in the curriculum so that our students grow up understanding that we are a state that is desperately dependent on resource development,” Dick said.

House Bill 352 is scheduled to be heard April 2 at 8 a.m. in the State Capitol. Room 106.

Watch video of the March 30 hearing at bit.ly/H5wz8h.

• Contact reporter Russell Stigall at 523-2276 or at russell.stigall@juneauempire.com.

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